Friday, October 14, 2011

Substitute Teacher

I have a degree in Human Biology, not Education. But that does not stop my kids' grade school from calling for occasional emergency substitute teaching from time to time.

This time it was the music teacher called away at the last minute who needed backup. I agreed to an afternoon-only stint, threw on something prettier than my yoga pants and planted myself in the music room.

First-, second-, and third-graders paraded in and out of the room thrilled for fresh meat (me) and surprised at how their sub (me) did not tolerate excessive noise (them) well.

But then the preschoolers waddled in. Delightful, happy, easy-to-please, these little creatures politely filed to their seats, excited to watch a DVD for our 25 minutes together.

"Elmo Presents Peter and the Wolf" held the attention of these delicious human nuggets with the exception of one little toe-headed boy who had some concerns.

With the lights dim and the movie rolling, my soon-to-be friend waddled across the front of the room to ask me a question.

"Do you think they will have a real wolf?" he whispered between his pudgy cheeks.

"I doubt it," I assured him. Temporarily confident he was not about to witness a Muppet massacre, he made his way back to his seat. For about two minutes. And then he made his way back.

"Do you think Elmo will be the wolf?" he again whispered wide-eyed.

I was impressed with his mental casting, but I did not know the answer. "I'm not sure," I replied, "why don't you go back to your seat and watch the show to find out?"

Perhaps distracted by the private Q/A session, perhaps oblivious to it all and full of questions themselves, a number of hands flew into the air. I quietly offered that anyone with a question come to me rather than disrupt the movie.

Four kids immediately evacuated their chairs and lined up before me. Led by my friend, there for a three-peat.

"Did you know Elmo and Telly are friends?" he asked.

"I did!" I answered with quiet but undeniable enthusiasm. Off he went.

The next child had stepped forward, mouth open but with no sound coming out.

"Do you need to think about your question?" I asked. A silent nod and pivot turn, and the child went back to the movie.

A serious-faced tot stepped forward next.

"I can't concentrate on the movie with all of these people talking."

"I agree," I answered. "Go on back to your seat and we'll all watch the show."

Finally, a precious little girl with big blue eyes and cherub-like cheeks stepped forward.

"I love you," she whispered earnestly.

It was the sweetest thing I'd heard all day. I considered gobbling her up, but I was pretty sure her parents wanted her back. So I simply replied, "I love you too."

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